Footdown

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 February, 2006, 12:00am

Two car clubs revved up in Yuen Long Industrial Estate last Sunday. The Hong Kong Galant club lined up a dozen Mitsubishis and proved that the Japanese marque has a loyal following in the New Territories. The Galant lads (right, centre) are a hairy-chested bunch, but they soon warmed to Foot Down when we asked them to rev their sparkling, 2.4-litre and 2.6-litre engines. After their group photograph, they all glided off like a pack of great whites, presumably to rip into a lone Subaru WRX at the lights. But we can't understand why such butch cars have so many cuddly toys in their back windows. Maybe being overtaken by a stuffed Garfield is the ultimate insult in Yuen Long.


Meanwhile, 30 pristine MX-5s filed into the park for the MX-5 Club's 10th anniversary celebrations (above left). We were impressed with a special-edition Mark III MX-5 (above right). Its owner kindly let us enjoy the chrome and duo-tone interior of the two-litre roadster and said he was happy with its handling.


We liked its wheel buttons, dashboard and door-elbow fit, and were impressed by the ease with which you could close the roof by hand: the mechanism could also make you look smooth and strong on dates.


But the seats are tight for the big-bottomed and its cabin lacks the airiness of the Porsche Boxster (from $683,000) or Mercedes- Benz SLK 200 ($455,000). The new MX-5 isn't Japan's Car of the Year for nothing, but it's dear here, at $308,800. So, we think the Daihatsu Copen ($166,996) is still the best-value convertible in Hong Kong, and wonder why Smart had to axe its 'Beast' Roadster.


Nissan dealers Honest Motors unveiled the new Cefiros (right) at its Austin Road, Kowloon showroom yesterday. The 2.3- litre ($236,800) and the 3.5-litre ($299,800) come with improved ergonomics, a keyless start and an air purifier.


Finally, you can see six classic Mercedes-Benzes from the marque's Stuttgart museum at the Maybach centre in Repulse Bay until March 9. The exhibits are an 1886 Benz Patent, a 1907 Mercedes 35hp Simplex, a 1913 Benz 8/20hp Convertible Touring Car, a 1926 Mercedes 28/95hp, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 320 Combination Coupe and a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman limousine. All are worth a look and are part of the marque's Half-Century Love Affair with Hong Kong promotion.


'Our 13 per cent share of Hong Kong's passenger-car market remains the highest of any Mercedes-Benz operation worldwide,' says Jutta Aulich, the marque's chief in Hong Kong. Good for dealers Zung Fu.


Our favourite Mercedes-Benzes are the A150 (from $198,000) and the SLK200 K - two small, safe and beautiful cars that make more sense in our crowded, fugged-up city. But we wish the marque and Zung Fu would bring in more diesel and F-Cell cars for a cleaner Hong Kong. Mercedes-Benz has the green technology to turn its loyal Hong Kong following into a hub of clean, smart, urban drivers. Just as Toyota has with the Prius.


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